After spending weeks locked inside training and making ambitious trip plans, I expected to burst out of lockdown back into climbing. But of course restrictions were lifted very gradually, which demanded a patience that passionate climbers aren’t really known for. To further slow things down, on the eve of lockdown easing - perhaps in over-excitement - I injured a ring finger whilst training.
It seemed unlikely that I would be able to train for hard big-wall climbing with an injured ring finger whilst remaining within the Welsh 5-mile restriction. Fortunately, I live within 5 miles of the Dinorwic Slate Quarries, and I could think of one well-known pitch with barely any holds to stress my injured finger. In fact, there were four pitches to this famous route that rarely get climbed in a single push and would make a great big-wall training challenge.
I ended up working this route with my partner Hazel, abseiling and jumarring around on fixed lines in the great wall of Twll Mawr - it really felt like a scaled-down big wall. I also replaced the bolts on the route with modern glue-ins, which was long overdue since the 35-year-old bolts were drilled only 1cm into the soft slate. It's remarkable that none of them ever ripped out.